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Page history last edited by Lenore Frost 6 years, 6 months ago

Volunteers of Essendon and Flemington, 1914-1918


Forde W   Pte  1343    William      6 Inf Bn    24    Labourer    Single    C of E        

Address:    Essendon, Collins St, 56    

Next of Kin:    Beattie, E, Mrs, mother, 56 Collins St, Essendon    

Enlisted:    27 Nov 1914        

Embarked:     A46 Clan MacGillivray 2 Feb 1915




The following note from Private W Forde, addressed to his mother, Mrs Beattie, of 56 Collins street, Essendon, was picked up in a bottle off the coast of South Australia, by Mr Herbert Stewart.  The following is the note, and copies of the correspondence vouching for the finding:-


February 4th, 1915

SS Clan McGillivray

Dear Mother, - I am quite well and happy.  We are still going, but I don't know where.  We are not allowed to put anything in the letter, as it may get into a spy's hands, and we would be settled.  Good-bye for the present, and God bless you.  Don't worry, I am having a good time.

From your loving son,


6th Bat Aus Forces."


"This letter and another letter, ad dressed to Miss J. Williams, 32 Williams street, Newport, together with two bent 3d. pieces, was found on Nov. 14th, 1915, on the beach in the same bottle, between Cape Binks and Rivoli Bay, South Australia by



"Rendlesham, South Aus. "23-11-1915. "Dear Mrs. Beattie,-The bottle containing your son's letter was picked up by my brother, Herbert Stewart, on Nov. 14th, about 3 miles South East of Rivoli Bay, on the South East coast of S.A. The bottle had to be broken to get the contents out. Besides the letter to you, it contained a letter for Miss Jean Williams, of 32 Williams street, Newport, from Capt. John Gibbs, and two 3d. pieces, for postage, I suppose, and bent to get them into the bottle. One we are forwarding to you, the other to Miss Williams. "We should like to know about your son, if you will be so kind as to let us know how it fares with him if you have heard lately. "We are sending the bottle and the letter by the same post as this letter. "Hoping you have comforting news of your son, "I am, sincerely yours, "LILLE C. STEWART."


THE SEA GIVES UP. (1915, December 2). The Essendon Gazette and Keilor, Bulla and Broadmeadows Reporter (Moonee Ponds, Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 3 Edition: Morning. Retrieved January 20, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74591057


Essendon Gazette 1 July 1915


 The following are extracts from a letter written by Private W. Forde, from Mena Camp. to his mother, at  Essendon:—He expressed pleasure at receiving the "Gazette," and to learn the Essendon news. He was much struck on arrival in Egypt at seeing the people in their  flowing robes, and the mules, etc, just as in Biblical times. He describes the wonders of Egypt, and his excursions in exploring the pyramids. He found human skulls and pottery, which must be of great age, and the mummies were very interesting. Private Forde and his companion climbed the pyramid and engraved their names on the stone. They found climbing down much harder than the ascent. They came to the entrance, and with the assistance of a guide explored the inside.


The following are extracts from letters from Private W. Forde, of Essendon:-


He describes the life in the trenches, and how it is often necessary, when a shell bursts and fills the trenches, to dig the soldiers out from beneath the debris. One little incident described by Private Forde shows how lightly the boys value their lives. A bombardment by the Jack Johnsons* was in progress, and a piece of bursting shell struck a corporal's rifle, smashing it.   This loss of the rifle was a great blow to the soldier, who danced about, yelling out, "Oh, my rifle! Oh, my rifle! "  


Private Forde was on duty at a sniper's post on one occasion, and describes the position as one not large enough to swing a cat in, with a hole about a foot square, with wire netting and an  iron plate with a loop hole. There were three soldiers in this place. Forde was armed with a six-chambered revolver, and the others had short snipers' rifles. They had to keep a strict watch for anything moving about, and were not allowed to take their eyes from the holes for a second.   This proved a great strain on the eyes, and the hands got cramped through holding the firearms. Private Forde had rather a novel experience while on sniper's duty. He had his eyes fixed on the loophole and his chin resting on a ledge, when he saw an object move towards him, coming right up to his mouth. He could not make a noise, so all he could do was to blow. This he did, and the object, which proved to be a mouse scampered away.


After being for 19 days without a wash, Forde, at length was able to get to the beach. He started to disrobe, and had got one boot and one putty off, When a shell landed in the vicinity. He got a bit dubious, and when No. 2 quickly followed, that settled it. He did not wait to put his boot on; but got for cover as fast as possible. While at the Convalescent Camp at Mudros, Private Forde witnessed the incineration of a couple of Sikhs. The operation, which was weird, yet interesting, as described by the above soldier, was as follows:--  Logs of wood were laid on the ground, the bodies were placed on top, and then more logs were put on the bodies; and the whole pile saturated with kerosene and lighted.


The very interesting event of Lord Kitchener's visit to Lemnos was witnessed by Private Forde, while at that place. The War Lord inspected the Australian camp, which presented a great sight. As soon as Lord Kitchener got to the saluting base, the bugle sounded, and the whole of the First Australian Division and New Zealand Army Corps presented arms. He inspected them, and they closed in, when Lord Kitchener briefly addressed them in the following words:-"The King is proud of you, England is proud of you, the people in Australia are proud of you, and I am proud of you. You have done well." Private Forde describes Lord Kitchener as a big square-shouldered, man, with grey eyes that seemed to pierce through a person.   Private Forde writes of his voyage, after the evacuation, on the "Empress of Britain," and of the journey to Tel el Kebir.


OUR SOLDIERS. (1916, March 23). The Essendon Gazette and Keilor, Bulla and Broadmeadows Reporter (Moonee Ponds, Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 4 Edition: Morning.. Retrieved January 27, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74592368
*Jack Johnson (1878-1946) was a famous American boxer whose nickname was ‘The Big Smoke’. Shells that gave off a dense black smoke when they exploded thus were dubbed ‘Jack Johnsons’. (Source: Glossary of Slang)


Mrs. G. J. Beattie, of 53 Collins street, Essendon, has received a letter from her son, W. Forde, in which he states he has been promoted to the rank of Corporal.


ROLL OF HONOUR. (1917, August 9). The Essendon Gazette and Keilor, Bulla and Broadmeadows Reporter (Moonee Ponds, Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 5 Edition: Morning. Retrieved May 22, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74603356


Mentioned in Correspondence:

H J Wright to Mother, 1916  letter dated July 1916


War Service Commemorated

Essendon Town Hall F-L

Christ Church Roll of Honour                                                                                                                          

Essendon Gazette Roll of Honour Wounded                

Regimental Register


Undated death notices, courtesy of Ken Wright. These

notices were pasted on the back of a photograph of

Charles Wright.

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